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Aberrant: Dead Rising - Flashbacks

Ira Sagebrush

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I had a crush on this sophomore and I was a junior who was friends with her best friend. I had never really talked to her before. Gathering my courage, I had convinced our mutual friend to tape a pink rose to the inside of her locker with a note that asked, 'Will you go to prom with me? Love, Ira.'

Lisa had thought it a joke at the time by her friend, and I never got a response. Fueled by chance since she had not accepted, I made a last ditch effort two days before prom and called her. She was elated to find out that I was indeed sincere, but at the same time, overcome with panic at not being prepared in any way.

She got permission to stay home the next day to shop, and went out with my Mom to find a dress and whatever else it is that women need.

Our friend had gone over to help her get ready, her and her date were going to share the limo. From what I found out, her makeup and hair were all done. Her dress was perfect, but she couldn't find her second shoe. They looked for it for the better part of an hour, trashing the house in the process, but never finding it.

About that time, I arrived with the limo, our friend's date, and my parents trailing in a car. Our friend's date rang the bell, (was his name Caleb?) and Lisa answered it to the sight of me standing in front of the white limo with her other shoe on a red pillow. 'My beautiful Cinderella, you can't go to prom without your other glass slipper.'

My Mom cried and took pictures, because that's what mom's do. I knelt on the pillow to put her other shoe on, and when I stood I could tell that she was torn between laughing, crying, or something else entirely that I would later come to recognize as a desire to jump me.

We had a wonderfully blissful evening that culminated on the dance floor when I paid the DJ $20 to play a waltz. The best he could do was Eliot Smith's "Waltz #2" But the music was the important part and we waltzed ourselves across the gym, lost in the moment with each other.

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"FUCKING CHRIST IRA! SLOW DOWN!" Lisa screamed hysterically, her ski gloves flying as she grabbed for the dash.

The Chevy Nova was barreling down a mountain pass, fishtailing violently in the fresh-fallen snow from the night before. The only thing keeping the car from a grand 'Thelma & Louise' ending was a small drift of snow.

"C'mon baby, calm down. We can't let them win can we?" Ira said, glancing in the rearview mirror. The jacked-up white Toyota Tundra was bearing down on the smaller car like a Polar Bear chasing its prey across the frigid ice of the Arctic.

"I don't fucking care Ira!" she said, her voice trembling as she started to cry. "Slow down, please."

Ira looked over at Lisa, his smile disappearing as he finally got the hint that she wasn't enjoying this as much as he was. Ira slowly let his foot off the gas, and regained full control of the car, the chains on the back tire finally grabbing hold of the icy road again.

The Tundra caught up, its passengers throwing out jeers, insults and otherwise vulgar cuts at Ira's masculinity as they flew by. Ira's grip white-knuckled on the wheel. If his eyes hadn't been hidden behind dark shades, it was very likely it would have melted the snow.

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"Doesn't Little Ira wanna come out and play?" she said with a pouty face. Her ponytail obscured half of her face as she looked up at Ira.

"Dammit Lisa, we're at work!" Ira objected playfully, pulling her hands off his belt and pulling his blue Wal-Mart apron down.

They were in the back storage for outdoors, lounging on a makeshift couch that had been constructed of 'stolen' sleeping bags and boxes.

"'I think thou doth protest too much.' We're on break Ira, besides, no one ever comes back here." Lisa said as she once again started to undo his pants.

She was right. The gun counter itself had its own aura that kept most of the common Wal-Mart shoppers away. Add in it being Wednesday and the middle of the day, it was not uncommon for the two to spend most of that day in the backroom 'cleaning.'

"C'mon baby," Ira pleaded, "I have a chem final coming up, and I believe you have a paper due...?"

"Yes, but I'd rather reenact the love of Pelleas and Arcade than to write about it." she said as she straddled him.

She tossed his Chemistry book aside and started to pull off her top when a blood-curdling scream from the store froze her in mid-motion.

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Good morning Wal-Mart shoppers...!

"C'mon Baby, we still got five minutes left on break." Ira said, playfully tugging on his girlfriend's bright blue apron, trying to entice her to stay in the sporting goods break-room haven.

"Let me go, Ira...something is going on out there..." Lisa said, jerking away and exiting back into the store.

"Whatever, I got five minutes." he called after her.

"Probably some fat Welfare cow and her brat kids." Ira mumbled to himself.

He pulled out the earbuds to his Zune from his pocket and was starting to put them in when he heard an all too familiar scream. Lisa's cry was followed by a cacophony of destruction and sounds normally reserved for Black Friday openings.

"The fuck? Uh uh, not today, I do not need this shit." Ira said, his irritation flaring.

He grabbed the keys from his belt and unlocked one of the gun safes, pulling out one of the display shotguns. It wasn't loaded, nor did it need to be. The sight of a gun was always enough to quell even the most upstart asshole customer on the worst day. His Manager had threatened to fire him more than once over it, but never seemed to get around to actually doing it.

Ira burst out of the back room, the gun held in front of him as he scanned the scene, looking for the cause of the commotion and his Love's despair.

"Holy fuck on a stick!" Ira screamed as adrenaline flooded his system. His pulse ramped up and his breath started to come in short, ragged gasps. "What the Hell is going on...this doesn't happen...what the fuck fuck fuck fuck FUCK!"

The carnage was on full display from his vantage. Lisa was busy beating on a prone form with a nine iron, blood splattering everywhere. Various blood-drenched zombies were chasing what customers were still present, weaving in and out of departments.

An undead trucker chased a soccer mom through the islands of baby clothing, a small herd of ghoulish children were gathered around the corpses of two employees and a nude adult man was gunning full bore after an elderly couple.

Ira fumbled with his keys as he panicked, wishing he hadn't locked the ammo up after his last customer.

He more sensed the form behind him than heard it, but when he turned around, his Manager was there.

"Steve...you're supposed to be at home, sick..."

'Steve' looked like he had crawled out of bed, still sporting a pair of Superman pajama bottoms and an old Metallica t-shirt. What was even more not normal, was the streaks of dark red on the front of his chest and oozing from the corners of his mouth.

Fulfilling a wish always sought, but never fulfilled, Ira wasted no time in swinging the shotgun around and playing t-ball with his boss' head. Content with the satisfying 'thunk' and crack of the skull, Ira turned and rolled over the counter, not waiting to see if his attack was enough.

Play it like the movies, play it like the movies, Ira.

He darted out into the aisle as the elderly couple ran by, fueled by survival instinct to a speed never seen before. The nude zombie was still pursuing them, a hole clean through his chest the size of a fencepost much more obvious at this angle. Ira stepped into his path.

"Hey dumbass...no shirt, no shoes, no service!" Ira yelled as he swung for the stands. The connection was sound, but Ira let go of the gun in shock as the trauma of missing his mark and striking the chest nearly bowled him over.

"Sonuvabitch!" Ira exclaimed as he grabbed his left shoulder, the fiery pain nearly blinding him.

Ira's recovery time was cut short as the naked zombie, now on the ground, was grabbing at him, pulling on Ira's jeans to yank him down. There was a new, large cylindrical impression in 'romeo's' chest that was beginning to ooze viscous gore.

Yanking away his leg, and nursing his arm, he darted back into sporting goods, looking for something he could manage one handed with force. Thinking back at Lisa, he was headed for the golf clubs when he was tackled from behind.

Pinned face down, the last thing he heard was the sickening sucking sound as his left arm was pulled out of the socket.

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"Ira! Watch out!" Lisa yelled, pointing to the shambling form that jumped in front of the car. Blood dripped from its hands and mouth, but not much more could be determined before the orange land yacht plowed into it, the body rolling up and over the car.

Ira slammed on the brakes, bringing the car to a screeching halt. He unbuckled and quickly turned around in his seat, taking off his shades.

"Oh my God, oh my God." Ira said quickly, turning back and forth between looking behind and Lisa. "Baby, you saw that, right? He jumped out in front of me, right? What the fuck was wrong with him?!"

The blue-aproned couple looked back as the body started to move, hesitantly at first, but then more quickly, if in jerky motions. The two shattered legs were hard to walk on, even for the undead.

"Holy shit." Ira said, an octave higher than normal, advertising his fear.

"IRA!" Lisa screamed as a zombie suddenly threw itself on the driver's window, the lower jaw missing from what should have been an attractive reporter. Her thick 'stage' make-up now serving to accentuate the concept of the 'walking-dead'.

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The Nova pulled up to the curb of a newer ranch-style house, the lawn just barely giving the ground a hint of green color. A zombie mother was feasting on what appeared to be her boy, having been caught unaware on his Big Wheel in the cul-de-sac.

Ira's parents had been sick with the flu, and had both stayed home. He raced up the steps with Lisa close behind, throwing the door wide. He knew his Mom would be downstairs working, regardless of her condition.

"Mom!...Dad!" He called, desperation tingeing his voice with fear. "Lisa, go check on Mom."

Ira left Lisa behind, running through the large house back to his parents' bedroom, praying silently in his head.

He threw open the door, a destroyed carcass that he could only assume used to be his father, strewn across the bed.

"Oh my God!" Ira cried collapsing to his knees, tears already pouring down his face. He didn't have much time to mourn though as the sound of breaking glass could be heard across the house.

"Ir-!" Lisa's scream was stopped short as Ira sprinted across the house and nearly leapt down the stairs into the finished basement.

The scene the gruesome, Lisa was trying to scream, trapped under robe-clad Zombie Mom. The undead mother was tearing into Lisa's chest where her halter top left the skin exposed, one zombie hand holding her head pinned to the floor sideways, which also prevented her screaming.

Ira didn't think, there wasn't time to, he grabbed the fire poker from the hearth and started beating his mom with it.

"Let her go!" Ira screamed hysterically, the log hook impaling her skull repeatedly.

"Let her go..." he sobbed, collapsing, as his mom finally stopped moving, "...let her go."

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They've busted through the outer doors, I don't know how much longer we can broadc--OH MY GOD, MIKE...They just got Mike, they FUCKING KILLED HIM! If there's anybody out there, please send help...oh shit! They've seen me... *sobbing, then whispers* I love you Emily... *crashing sound, screaming, sounds of struggling, then all is quiet as the slurping sounds of mastication take over*

Ira glanced down at Lisa as he turned the radio off. She was laying across the seat with her head in his lap. Her body gently rocking with the movements of the car as he flew down I-25. Ira had stripped her down to her underwear in an attempt to control the fever that was raging through her system. Her chest was wrapped in gauze and medical tape haphazardly, like some misfit mummy, though the wound had stopped bleeding.

"Hold on baby, Gramps will know what to do." Ira said, wiping away a tear underneath his shades. "You've made it this long, what's another few hours?"

The terrain was flat and featureless except for the occasional farmhouse and small clusters of elms & locust trees. Ira hadn't passed a car since he got outside Pueblo. A quick glance in the rearview mirror showed a large black plume of smoke originating back towards town.

The sun started its slow sink behind the mountains as another hour passed with no sign of any cars or people. The rays releasing their grip on the Midwest reluctantly, as if they knew the coming tide of darkness promised to change the world with its crashing wave.

Ira had been steadily increasing his speed, as his desperation waxed and Lisa's breathing waned to the point he couldn't tell if she was really breathing or he was imagining it. Unfortunately, Nature called, even as Hell sought fit to annex humanity.

He pulled the orange Nova over out of habit, slammed it into park and left it to idle as he ran for the irrigation ditch, ripping his pants open as he went, his bladder threatening to burst.

Ira finished and climbed back out of the small canal, jogging around the front of the growling Nova to find the front seat empty.

Ira grabbed his Dad's Browning from the dash and spun around, surveying the bleak landscape. "Lisa? LISA!" he yelled, panicking.

All of a sudden he was falling, a hand having grabbed his foot and pulled. The thunderous crack of the shotgun deafened him as it blasted the sky, just missing his head. Ira landed hard on his ass and immediately started to kick, trying to crab walk away from the car.

He managed to break free and scuttle away enough to see a slathering Lisa underneath the car. Her once beautiful eyes that had shown him love, now displayed a cold, lifeless hunger.

"Baby, don't make me do this. Please don't make me do this." Ira pleaded, readying another shell as his eyes filled with water.

For a moment, timed seemed to stop for Ira as he gazed into those eyes and remembered all that had happened between them, the fights, the laughs, the love, was there hesitation he saw? Or was his mind grasping at its last straw as it slowly floated away on a wind that reeked of death and decay?

The lunge by the creature that was once the love of his life was quickly followed by the rapport of the Citori, its blast seeming to silence the world, even as the crash echoed off the hills.

Ira collapsed onto his back sobbing as the zombie tore into his left arm, the shot having been wide, blasting a hole in the rear panel and through the trunk. He thought about giving up even as the pain was triggering his self-defense mechanisms. It would be so much easier to just let her finish the job, lay down and die, than to try and live in this world.

A sickening sucking sound followed by a pop and immense pain brought him screaming back to the present to find Lisa rolling on the ground, wrapped around his arm like it was her last hope, gnawing on it. In that moment, witnessing the desecration of his body, Ira stopped being Ira, emotional attachment ended and everything but survival vanished. Not even having the chance to think before he reacted, he was standing over her, the shotgun in his right hand, butted against her head.

"I'm sorry baby."


Ira held the camp shovel in his dirt & grime covered hand as he knelt at the patch of freshly turned soil, his clothes a stained a reddish brown from the valley clay. A small black velvet box was being squeezed tightly in his other hand, as the last hint of dusk sank behind the Rockies. Ira Sagebrush then fell forward onto the grave and wept, staring at his red-stained hands.

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"Stop! Don't leave us Ira!" The boy said, running after him.

Ira spun around, pulling the familiar shotgun up and pointing it vaguely in the direction of the boy as anger spewed from his mouth. "Why the hell shouldn't I?! You guys fucking ripped my grandfather into pieces! And tried to off me too! Give me one goddamn reason why I shouldn't blow you the fuck away!"

"It wasn't us Ira, it was them. The zombies. At least take us with you." The boy pleaded, tears leaving tracks down his dusty face.

"Not a chance. This place is dead... look at your arm." he said, gesturing with the gun.

The boy quickly covered up the oozing cut with his other hand, his already fearful face becoming frantic.

"Go enjoy your last day on this godforsaken planet." Ira mumbled, his anger bleeding away as he turned around and continued towards his orange vehicle.

Ira barely had time to turn at the sound of rapidly approaching footfalls before the boy barreled into him, nearly knocking him down as he tried to wrestle the gun out of Ira's hands.

"You can't leave us!"

"Get off me you psycho brat!"

"I won't let you go!"

"I...said...get...the fuck...off me!"

Ira's hand dug into the boy's neck, drawing blood as he manhandled him and tossed him back. Before the small, weak body had come to a stop, the black lines started spider-webbing across his neck and his eyes glazed over in death.

As Ira watched, the once emotionally torn boy stood back up, his distraught replaced with insatiable hunger.

Psychologically distant, Ira raised the Citori that, too often, had been fired that day, once more letting loose its thunder.

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